Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. — Psalm 89.14
“Time and again in the history of the Christian church, the blood of martyrs has been its seed,” reflected Elisabeth Elliot. Her husband Jim was killed with four other missionaries in January of 1956. After she was widowed, Elliot—and her daughter—returned to live among the very indigenous people who savagely killed her husband and friends. Her motivating factor was faith in God’s justice. Decades later she wrote:
There is always the urge to oversimplify, to weigh in at once with interpretations that cannot possibly cover all the data or stand up to close inspection. Cause and effect are in Gods hands. Is it not the part of faith to simply let them rest there?
God is God. I dethrone him in my heart if I demand that He act in ways that satisfy my idea of justice. For us widows the question as to why the men who had trusted God to be both shield and defender should be allowed to be speared to death was not one that could be smoothly or finally answered in 1956, nor yet silenced in 1996.
God did not answer Job’s questions either. Job was living in a mystery—the mystery of the sovereign purpose of God—and the questions that rose out of the depths of that mystery were answered only by a deeper mystery, that of God Himself.
I believe with all my heart that God’s Story has a happy ending. But not yet, not necessarily yet. It takes faith to hold on to that in the face of the great burden of experience, which seems to prove otherwise. What God means by happiness and goodness is a far higher thing that we can conceive.
A healthier faith seeks a reference point outside all human experience, the Polestar which marks the course of all human events, not forgetting that impenetrable mystery of the interplay of God’s will and man’s (“He did not many miracles there because of their unbelief”; “Jesus was handed over to the power of men”).
It is not the level of our spirituality that we can depend on. It is God and nothing less than God, for the work is God’s and the call is God’s and everything is summoned by Him and to His purposes, the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package—our bravery and our cowardice, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses.